XULA BUILD Graduates Celebrated for Top Honors at 2018 Commencement

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Contact Info: airvin1@xula.edu

By Ashley Irvin

Three BUILD scholars received the highest honors and awards at the Xavier University of Louisiana 91st Commencement Ceremony on May 12, 2018 at the University Convocation Center. Bryan Redmond, a BUILD student researcher, received the Saint Katharine Drexel Award, which is the highest honor for any Xavier student to receive. Kylar Wiltz, BUILD scholar, received the Mother M. Agatha Ryan award, the second highest award from Xavier University, and Hassan Owens, BUILD scholar, received the Louis Israel award. To be considered for these high honors, students must represent good standing, maintain a high GPA and show active leadership on campus.

From left: Hassan Owens, Kylar wiltz, Bryan Redmond. Photos courtesy XULA BUILD.

Five-hundred graduates were awarded their degrees during the commencement. Award-winning New York Times investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones delivered the keynote address and was awarded an honorary degree. Also recognized during the ceremony was Dr. Norman C. Francis, president emeritus of Xavier and a 1952 graduate, who was awarded an honorary degree from his alma mater. Five students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages headed this year’s group of 44 summa cum laude graduates, including: Hannah Mbony, a biology/premed major from Brookeville, Md.; and four pharmacy students – Sarah Bilbe of Kenner, La.; Rania El-Desoky of Muscat, Oman; Thao Pham of New Orleans, La.; and Amanda Stevens of Kenner, La.

Bryan Redmond and Kylar Wiltz with XULA President Dr. Reynold Verret. Both students are BUILD scholars and they earned the university’s top honors. Photo courtesy XULA BUILD.

XULA President Dr. Reynold Verret, keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, and President Emeritus Dr. Norman C. Francis with the University’s 2018 summa cum laude graduates.

More XULA BUILD Graduate Highlights

Lauren Thornton was selected as one of only two Louisiana recipients of the 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the first XULA BUILD student.    

Photo courtesy XULA BUILD.

Chelsea Kelland was accepted to graduate school at U. C. Davis to pursue her Ph.D. in immunology.The XULA BUILD program fostered her research.

Chelsea Kelland. Photo courtesy XULA BUILD.